OUT TO LUNCH
by Richard Eber
When it comes to the success of new restaurants, the real estate adage “location, location, location”, usually holds true. With such logic, Momo N Curry at 4375 Clayton Road should be on life support. Its awkward location next to the drive-through window of Concord’s new Dunkin’ store (aka Dunkin’ Donuts), qualifies this Nepalese restaurant as being “out of the way”.
Despite this and a lengthy traffic-reducing construction of Dunkin’, Momo has been successful in their first five months of operation. There is one major reason for this. Their authentic Indo-Nepalese cuisine is excellent, and word of mouth and online reviews have made them a trendy popular new place to dine.
The affable owner Sam Devakota, who works as an engineer by day, used the money that was to be used to pay for a master’s degree at St Mary’s to open the restaurant. He has installed his culinary-trained brother, Chef Sandesh and other family members to assist in running Momo n Curry. Sam’s partner is cousin Sanjay Dhital.
For those who are unfamiliar, Momo is a steamed dumpling with some form of filling and has become a traditional delicacy in Nepal and its neighboring countries. ‘Momo’ is to Nepal what pizza is to Italy. It is available in every restaurant, hotel, and household of Kathmandu and other parts of Nepal.
All their dishes are homemade, creative, and tasty. I recommended you bring several guests to Momo as you’ll get the more enjoyment sharing and discovering a greater variety of dishes. But if there are only one or two of you, Momo n Curry offers mixed grill alternatives that allows one to try several items on their menu.
Nepalese food has similarities to Indian food, especially from the Northern part of the country. They feature chicken, lamb, goat, shrimp, and vegetarian specialties. Pork and beef are absent from the menu in honor of the Hindu culture in Nepal.
The food is spicy but considerably less so than the strong curry taste found in Indian food. In my three trips to Momo n Curry, I preferred this toned-down version of entrées. It allows for more exploration of their complex use of cumin, ginger, garlic, cardamom, cinnamon, turmeric, and several other spices.
When one is seated, they are greeted with Paapad, a Nepalese version of chips and salsa. These lentil crackers are served with a green (yogurt and mint) and a tamarind sauce that works very well in a yin and yang sort of way.
For the first course, we had Momo’s signature dumplings (Jhol) which were served piping hot on a platter with steamed vegetables on top. They were filled with ground chicken and were much more complex than pot stickers, Gyoza, and Aushak found in other cuisines. As with all their menu items, Momo n Curry offers different variations of their dumpling dishes including a vegetable stuffing and a fried version.
When ordering, include the homemade Naan Bread which comes plain, onion, garlic, basil and a stuffed (Paratha) with dried cherries inside. They are all incredible and can be dipped in various sauces to augment the dining experience throughout the meal.
For main courses, there are many ways to go; lamb and chicken dominate these offerings. The Butter Chicken served in a rich tomato sauce goes well with plain basmati rice. They also do a special Tandoori Tikka Masala and a milder Korma dish that are worth trying. Most of these items can substitute lamb, goat, shrimp, and fish as desired.
As might be expected, lamb is an important part of the menu. Momo n Curry uses a high-quality New Zealand product that is cubed for use with sauce combinations. If one does not want to eat a stew, Seekh Kabob Lamp grilled to order is a good alternative.
One dish we especially liked was the Lasooni Saag Paneer which is a mixture of spinach, garlic, and Indian cottage cheese. Momo also offers several other vegetarian entrées including Aloo Gobi, (cauliflower, potatoes, and tomato, stew), Chana Masala, and Bengan Bharta utilizing eggplant which is barbecued in a clay tandoori oven.
Momo n Curry also offers a tasty mango Lassi yogurt drink, fresh mint lemonade, and even Real Gold and Mustang Beer imported from Nepal. Sam does everything possible to create an environment where diners are treated as honored guests in his home.
All items featured on the dessert menu are also created in-house. Their unique offerings include reasonably priced Gulab Jamun, Rasmalai, and my favorite, a rice pudding which is garnished with almonds and pistachios.
This favorably priced hideaway has lunch combo specials starting at just $7.49 and most dinner entrées priced from $10-$15.
It is interesting to note that the ready acceptance of Momo n Curry by the community has been made possible by the success in recent years of other Indian and ethnic restaurants in the area including Naan N Curry, Swagat Indian Cuisine, and Anarkali.
Momo N Curry is open Tuesday through Sunday 11: 30 to 2:30 for lunch and from 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. for dinner. Reservations are recommended, especially Friday through Sunday by calling 925-349-9706. www.momoncurryca.com.